Birthday Dinner at Le Bouquet Garni, Luxembourg

Uff! Even if I pretend to be young, I needed some days to recover from the last birthday week end – after three days of partying I still feel a bit blurred.

On Friday night, that was actually the day of my birthday, my husband booked a table at Le Bouquet Garni. Even if I love French restaurants, we never had a chance to visit this one during our pretty long stay in Luxembourg.

The restaurant is located in the area called “Ilot Gastronomique“, in the Old Town, just behind the Grand Duke Palace. It has preserved traditional settings of the area – stone walls, timbers on view, old furniture. We were welcome in a small entrance and accompanied to our table. The restaurant has different rooms on the two floors and our table was indeed on the first one – just next to the window overlooking the back of the Palais. My husband loved the fireplace, the table was quite big for two persons and the distance with other guests more than appropriate.

There are two menu choices: a menu for 40 euro (starter, main, dessert), with brasserie imprint, and a more gastronomic one for 72 euro (again, starter, main, dessert). Both have several choices between fish and meat, plus there is the possibility to upgrade the second menu to four dishes for 85 euro.

We had a glass of champagne rose’ as aperitif – on the table there were olives and nuts to enjoy – and we went for the “Menu Selection”: cauliflower welcome from the chef, lobster as starter, sole a la “bonne femme” (with mussels and shrimps) as main and moelleux au chocolat as dessert. We accompanied the dinner with a bottle of Chablis Gran Cru.
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 photo 9ca588c8-ba0a-4838-aadb-69691aad4282_zpsqhvumuel.jpgThings I loved about the night:
– The sole and the chocolate cake were just perfect. Amazing combination of tastes, fair portions, great raw materials quality. The sole was accompanied by potatoes mousse that was just delicious, while the dessert was also composed by a yummy fruit sorbet. I am still dreaming about both.
– The service and the settings were great: I really appreciate some distance between tables, the timing of the dinner was almost great, we did not wait too much but it was not even too fast. The bottle of wine was next our table but we were always served by the waiter and our glasses were never empty.
– The two menu choices are perfect if you are coming for a dinner with friends – and therefore don’t want to splash the cash – or for a special occasion – like we did. All the dishes were appealing and the portions look correct for the price.
– The location is really romantic and perfect for a tete-a-tete.

Things I did not really love about the night:
– Overpriced aperitif (and drinks). As said, we ordered a glass of champagne rose’. I have been to the most expensive restaurants in Luxembourg and normally the maximum we paid was 18 euros (with an average of 13/15 euro). The champagne was billed 26 euro per glass – 52 euro for two glasses (!!!!). As it was a blind choice – the waiter asked us if we wanted an aperitif, so we did not have any list in front of us – I really think it was too much. Skip the aperitif if you don’t want bad surprises. Drinks had a pretty high recharge as well – 9 euro for the water, 4 euro each for espresso but in line with other similar restaurants, French wines starting from 40 euro and upgrading very fast. No Italian white wines below 100 euros. What is the sense then of having a 40 euro menu if you are going to spend the double for water, coffee and wine?
– The lobster of the starter was great, but was accompanied by a light sauce that was made only of vinegar. We were provided a spoon and when I tasted the bisque I was almost disgusted. The lobster alone indeed was very good.
– Service a bit worst at the end of the dinner, when the dessert was taken to the table we were still finishing our last glass of wine. We had a very dry wine, so I would have loved to take a sweet glass with the cake. In this way we ended up not finishing our wine and not ordering anything else. We had also to ask the waiter to wait couple of minutes to serve the coffee as he seemed a bit under pressure for made us leaving – it was not even 11 pm, so not so late and we were not the last table.

In conclusion: we had a lovely dinner. We will come back for sure, maybe to try the brasserie menu, as the settings are perfect for a romantic dinner, but please remember total price is escalating fast with the drinks – so still recommended for a special occasion and not for a “I don’t want to cook” night ūüėõ

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A nice Sunday discovery: Ambrosia Restaurant, Luxembourg City

As usual, last Sunday, we spent a good half an hour on the couch, trying to find a restaurant to spend our evening. As you probably figure out, if you are following my blog, we do love going out for dinner on Sunday evening Рit is like a nice way to conclude our week end, above all when my husband is working РBUT at the same time, in Luxembourg central areas, very few nice places are open.

We decided to go for Ambrosia, a cozy Greek that open not long time ago in rue de Notre-Dame. I visited several Greek restaurants already around the city and I always avoided this one so far as it looks like a bit too posh for the situation we are usually having Greek dinners – you know, big tables, lot of different appetizers, Ouzo. Moreover, several years ago, I had a really ugly experience at the To Kastro, a famous restaurant that used to be located in the Ilot Gastronomique and to myself Ambrosia, from the appearance, remind very much of that one – wrong idea!

We called around 8 pm and we reserved a table for 9 pm, two people. No problem. We arrived on time and the restaurant was full, but not fully booked. On our side, just next to the window, we were the only persons, and we really appreciated it, because otherwise tables would have been really too close (note to self: never go there on a packed night).

A smiling waiter left us the menu, similar to other Greek restaurants we have been, maybe a little bit less extensive. The atmosphere is nice and romantic, even if in contrast with the noises produced by the room – extremely loud – with some Greek music in the background.

We went for two small starters, Atherina Рthat is my favorite, fried tiny fishes, Рand a portion of marinated Octopus. The wine list was taken separately on a simple sheet a bit confused, but the waiter again was helpful. We opted for a Chardonnay, average price, that was great. I am not a fan of floral bouquet wines, but given the strong taste of most of the dishes, it was indeed pleasant. To follow, I went for the mixed grilled fishes plat, that includes tuna, swordfish, shrimp and squid. The dish was as whole good: I would say that the swordfish and the tuna were great, only one shrimp a bit narrow (maybe two next time?) while the squid was gummy Рabove all compared to the octopus we took as starter that was delicious. As side, there were some grilled vegetables and a tiny portion of rice with sauce. The rice was yummy as well as the vegetables. I would have appreciated a bigger side portion, but I can understand this is more a personal choice and people prefer a bigger main portion, as it was the case. My husband had sea bass and was happy about his choice.

We were really full so we concluded with two espresso coffees. In total, we spent 100 euro, of which 28 where coming from the wine. Fair quality/price relationship, above all in the city center.

As a small side note, the ladies’ was a total mess – this is not fully attributable to the restaurant, but if you had a busy night maybe you ensure in the middle that someone checks out the restrooms.. When you are in the city center you expect a certain level of service also on this side.

I will have another try at this restaurant, with the meat next time, also to check how the situation changes compared to the clients the restaurant has. As said, the atmosphere is very romantic, but it resulted being just really loud because of people talking and music. But the food at the end was fairly good and the waiters always available and nice.

Check it out:

Ambrosia Restaurant

In the meanwhile, do you have any good suggestion for Sunday nights?
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Postkutsch Restaurant, Esch sur Alzette

We discovered Postkutsch Restaurant recently as we were looking for some fancy places to have dinner a bit off the city chaos. At the same time, as I totally avoid driving if I plan to drink even a glass of wine  and I am not keen travelling with someone that did (I am sorry, démodé, maybe, but I really do care about my safety), so Postkutsch appeared as the best solution, as it is located just 5 minutes off Esch/Alzette station and trains from and to Luxembourg are running until 1.20 am Рluckily enough we live at a walking distance from the Gare.

As said, after a first amazing experience, we decided to come back with my sister and her fiancée. Be careful, you need to book a bit in advance for week ends: we placed our reservation three weeks earlier in order to secure our place, as it was the only night we were all available.

The internal décor of the restaurant appears to be coming from another age: a bit old-fashioned, maybe, but I love to be projected in this 20s atmosphere, with big round tables, mirrors, candles. As client, indeed, you are not feeling obliged to dress up Рas in many same-style restaurant in the city center Рand this makes us feel even better. A simple shirt and jeans for men is enough for enjoying an agreeable dinner.

Coming to the food, the restaurant as a formula called Temptation, with a fixed menu and some in-the-middle choices (starters, main, sorbet or cheese). The price is really affordable, 48 Euro, for the quantity and above all the quality of the food received.

As “amuse-bouche” we received a cappuccino of mushrooms with truffle and a mousse of ham. Both of them really tasty. Following, I opted as started for an Hamburger from the Sea, a very structured dish that was served with a mousse of ketchup (yummy!) and avocado. It was a great start, my husband only did not really enjoy his dish – roe deer terrine – saying it was too gummy and fat.

The next dish for me, main course, was Saint Pierre fish, cooked with meat jus and potato gallette. Also this dish was great, as it was a perfect combination between the sea taste and the aroma of truffle with the jus. My sister had the same, while her fiancée took a kind of saltimbocca and my husband the picanha. Everyone loves his dish.

Next step was the chariot of cheese, that is always an extremely interesting adventure for me – I love cheese! I took three strong softy cheese and I really enjoy them – the Calvados Camembert was one of my favorite.

At this point we were already pretty full and our train was about to leave. We had the dessert, composed by a combination of tree small dishes, and the coffee, accompanied by chestnuts mousse and some sweets. I was not even able to finish my dessert, as it was really a lot to eat, but everything was perfect.

As drinking, they have as well some standard formulas that include aperitif – several choices of “maison” cocktails – wine through the dinner and coffee. Being Saturday, we had to opt for the formula for 37 euro each – while during the week you have as well the one for 22 euro – and it was a great combination. I started with a vodka strawberry cocktail – normally strawberry cocktail are always a bit too sweet but this was not the case, it was balanced and flavorful. I continued with a Pinot Blanc for the starter and another white mineral wine, a Viognier, ¬†with the rest of the dinner. My husband and my sister’s fianc√©e had red with the main.

Once again, it was a really nice experience, next time we will only try to arrive a bit earlier – we were there a quarter to nine – in order to relax a bit at the beginning and avoid the rush between aperitif and starters.

Postkutsch is the perfect place if you love French cuisine but you don’t want to squander, you will get spoiled there by all the treaties they propose and it is perfect for family celebrations.

Check their website for menu and other updates:

Postkutsch
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Oldie but Goodie: Bick Stuff Restaurant, Luxembourg

It has been long time since my last visit to Bick Stuff. It was my favorite spot in the first year in Luxembourg, when I was living next block for a bit and later, when myself and my Megane were passing there in front each and every night. I don’t know if it ever happened to you, but sometimes when you close a period of your life, you try also to move on from the places where you were going, trying to cut it away from your memories..

Anyway. We decided to go to Bick Stuff for our Saturday date as last minute booking. We wanted something classic but fancy, and there are not a lot of places with this style in the city center.

Bick Stuff is just located quietly in the Clausen area, off the mainstream, but easy to get. You can spot the lightly restaurant sign from the street, even if the entrance is a bit hidden.

You will fall in love with the cozy décor. The restaurant is set just on a big room, wood all over, Christmas decorations all around. The attention to details is extreme: ornaments are not loud or trash. Small snow balls are on a shelter next to our table, a teddy bear is sitting on the couch overlooking the room, tiny lights on a tree at the entrance. The atmosphere is unreal but delicate, you can enjoy your dinner in a fairy tale mood. Obvious but true, perfect place for a date.

We had a cremant aperitif, quiches with leeks as amuse bouche, I went on the classic side with Fois Gras as starter and Filet de Boeuf as main, while my husband took the seasonal menu with terrine of pheasant and roe deer stew. Dishes were just perfect. The home made fois gras tasted different from every fois gras you have ever had before and it is join by delicious cereal bread. A pity that no salad/vegetables were proposed on the dish, as it was a bit too dry РI had the salad of my husband indeed. The beef was cooked with mushroom crust and accompanied by potatoes and a thin puff pastry with nutmeg. The portions were not tiny themselves: my husband had his dish filled three times with the lovely stew and we were really full at the end. During the dinner we drunk a delightful Saint-Emilion and my husband took from the list the last bottle of a Medoc 2004 to bring home. We concluded with Nespresso coffees and two Cognac.

Excluding the bottle we took home, we spent 100 euro each – of which 56 euro were for the Saint-Emilion bottle and 32 for the cognac. Not extremely cheap, neither on the luxury side, definitely commensurate to the enchanting dinner we had. Virginie was a perfect host, even if we were the last clients remained we never felt pressured to accelerate the timing.

A place recommended if you love the classic cuisine and you are not looking for food artifices: extremely good ingredients, perfect hospitality and graceful ambience are the distinctive elements of this lovely restaurant.

Bick Stuff
95, rue de Clausen
L-1342 – LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg)

http://www.bickstuff.lu/

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Amsterdam – favorite spots

This is the busiest period of the year, unluckily. I have been under water for work and studying for my exams. I spend part of my working time in Amsterdam and this month I did not want to leave at all. Business trips are always kind of nice: you don’t have to cook, to wash dishes, you don’t have to clean your house. Normally you do reasonable working hours and having people around is something different than my day to day job. Even if I was really tired at the end, I decided to write a small bit on my Amsterdam’s favorite places.

My relationship with Amsterdam, like all the long and fashionable relationships, did not start well. In the first trips on my own I was finding the city pleasant, yes, but extremely touristic. I was annoyed by so many people “out of it” around and after a while it seems to me I was finding shops selling all the same kind of things – kebab, chocolate, silly t-shirts.

When I started to travel to Amsterdam for work, being out most of the time with Dutch people or, at least, people that are living in Amsterdam for long time and that have a different approach to the city than teenagers during their Interrail, I started discovering different areas of the city and I definitely fall in love with them.

My beloved eating spot is Momo http://www.momo-amsterdam.com/. It is just off Leidseplein. You can head there for a drink or a dinner. It is not extremely cheap but it is the kind of place you go for a date or with someone you want to impress. You can have fabulous cocktails and tapas style fusion dishes. They have impressive sushi and the environment is business but fresh and noisy. Reservation recommended.

A more low profile place where you can have a beer (they have more than 100 ) or something very Dutch to eat is the Gollem http://cafegollem.nl/overtoom/.

The one I usually go is located in Overtoom, tram n.12, 5 minutes walking from Museumplein. The location is old style and the customers are mostly Dutch, on the hipster side. You can have some nice snacks with your beer (fried Gouda mmmm!) or a proper dish (try the Flemish Stew!).

On the shopping side you have more than one options: as said, in city center you can find all the high street brands. I love loosing¬†my mornings off¬†going down with the tram on Leidseplein and follow bus n.2 till Kalverstraat. You should have a bit of patience, good gloves during winter and you can stop by at the small Starbucks in front of the flowers market for a break. You have also your “Montenapoleone” area, that is represented by¬†PC Hooftstraat (tram n.2, 3, 12, just next block to Museumplein). But, honestly, you can find Gucci and LV everywhere around the world..

I prefer to go locally and my favorite shop is for sure Rituals (http://eu.rituals.com/en-nl/home). I am not a fan of beauty products with strong smells, but those from this brand are never too much. The fragrance of your bath or shower is following you smoothly during the day and they have great consistence. I love the Hamman series and I have just discovered the Diwali line they did for Christmas time. They have just started also a complete men line with aftershaves, balms, creams.

And then, just because I cannot find it in Luxembourg, I love stopping at COS. I think the person you invented this brand was¬†friend of¬†mine in one of my previous lives, because there is nothing in the shop I would not buy. I love their minimalist lines and the¬†colors, all black with some bright exception. I really hope they will hope a shop soon in Luxembourg, because so far they don’t even deliver their online shopping here, therefore¬†you should really travel to buy something.

So, do you like Amsterdam? What are you favorite places over there?

 

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